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2018 Gasparilla Bowl

College Football

2018 Gasparilla Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick

It’s not the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl anymore.

Back down to Florida we go for the 2018 Gasparilla Bowl.

If you’re the University of South Florida, hereafter known as USF, this is a mixed bag. On one hand, this bowl is in essence a home game; technically neutral but on your home field, and will likely be stocked with Bulls fans. However, you lost five in a row to close the regular season and ended up in an early bowl game as a result. Two of those losses were home blowouts to Tulane and UCF. If they had to fail at the end of the season, at least they didn’t have to go far.

USF hosts Marshall in this contest, a contender out of Conference USA. Which team wins this matchup, and who among the players might be star of the show?

Previous Bowls Picked: Cure | New Mexico | Las Vegas | Camellia | New Orleans | Boca Raton | Frisco

2018 Gasparilla Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info

Thursday, December 20, 2018, 8:00pm ET (5:00pm PT)
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Broadcast on ESPN
$1,133,735 payout (Link: College Football Poll)
Marshall is a 2.5-point favorite

2018 Gasparilla Bowl: South Florida Bulls

7-5 (3-5 American); 4th in American East
Best Win: Georgia Tech
Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 64th, Total Offense 32nd, Rushing Offense 37th, 3rd Downs 75th, Time of Possession 121st, Turnover Margin T-68th, Sacks Allowed T-109th, Red Zone T-50th
Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense T-91st, Total Defense 104th, Rushing Defense 122nd, Opponent 3rd Downs 83rd, Sacks Per Game T-43rd, TFL Per Game T-32nd, Interceptions T-48th, Opponent Red Zone T-56th
Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking T-18th, Punts Per Game T-21st

2018 Gasparilla Bowl: Marshall Thundering Herd

8-4 (6-2 Conference USA); T-2nd in C-USA East
Best Win: Florida International
Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense T-77th, Total Offense 81st, Rushing Offense 86th, 3rd Downs 68th, Time of Possession 86th, Turnover Margin T-74th, Sacks Allowed T-36th, Red Zone T-116th
Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense T-32nd, Total Defense 23rd, Rushing Defense 9th, Opponent 3rd Downs 15th, Sacks Per Game T-5th, TFL Per Game T-24th, Interceptions T-34th, Opponent Red Zone T-56th
Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking T-82nd, Punts Per Game T-39th

2018 Gasparilla Bowl: Head-to-Head

This bowl game will be the first all-time meeting between South Florida and Marshall. (Link: Winsipedia)

2018 Gasparilla Bowl: Most Likely Standout Player

Ty Tyler, DL, Marshall. The Thundering Herd has one of the better defenses in Conference USA, and in looking for key players, Ty Tyler stands out from the…herd. We tried not to go there; honest. Anyway, this junior defensive lineman had eight sacks this season, and he gets to face an offensive line that gave up the second-most sacks in the American in 2018. USF is susceptible to a pass rush, despite the fact that their bottom line offensive numbers are not terrible. If someone makes a play on the Marshall defense to stop an important drive, it may be Tyler that does it.

2018 Gasparilla Bowl: Pick

Just because USF got a home game for their bowl does not mean we are rushing into picking them. The Thundering Herd deserve a look, just as much because of what USF has not done lately, which is win.

Don’t get us wrong: Marshall has not compiled an impressive resume. Most of their wins were against sub-par Group of Five teams, though they did go 4-2 away from home. That said, USF is NOT the best team they have played this season, though the best (NC State) beat them.

Once the Bulls got ranked, winning became a chore. They squeaked past Tulsa on the road and beat UConn by just eight, two teams you won’t see anywhere near a bowl game. Houston started the downslide, and they gave up an average of 39.6 points per game in their losing streak. Their average margin of defeat was 19.4 points.

Combine a decent Marshall defense and an okay-at-best USF offense and you might get the Bulls being stymied. Marshall’s offense could be better, and USF’s defense has not acquitted itself well, in particular in the final weeks of the season. These are two teams of average quality, and in a situation such as this, it’s a coin flip.

That streak by USF scares me. Almost a month will have passed between games for the Bulls, so perhaps their negative momentum is forgotten. Not by us, however.

Pick: Marshall

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